Pershore College garden centre and nursery goes peat-free

Pershore College Garden Centre and Nursery will no longer sell bagged peat-based compost and nearly all of its plants will be grown in peat-free. It comes as the Government’s voluntary guidelines for phasing out peat sales to the retail public by 2020 were meant to come into force.

As of 2019, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) peat strategy had still been delayed and there is no set date for the publication of the document to state when peat use should be phased out. To meet the demand for peat-based products, acres of UK peat bogs were drained and destroyed, making peatland one of the UK’s most threatened habitats.

The compost now being used and sold by Pershore College is from Gloucestershire-based Melcourt Industries Limited. The garden centre and nursery is also transitioning to non-black pots and trays for its plants, ensuring the recyclability of its biggest waste product.

Plants will be grown in carbon pigment-free containers meaning that local residents who live in Worcestershire and Herefordshire will be able to send them for recycling through their kerbside collections.

Josh Egan-Wyer, Garden Centre and Nurseries manager, said: “Horticulture has been identified as an area that is wastefully using peat and it is expected most suppliers will have gone peat-free over the next decade. We champion sustainability at Pershore College, and that is no different in the garden centre and nursery. So, we decided to make the transition to peat-free now and lead the way.

“The government voluntary guidelines are very loose and look unlikely to be strongly enforced. We are finding that the general public are very geared towards sustainability now and in many cases, customers are asking for plants that are grown in peat-free.”

Eighteen months ago, the garden centre and nursery merged into one unit, providing a one stop shop for retail and trade customers. It resulted in an eight per cent rise in turnover last financial year.

The new pots and change in compost join other sustainability measures that are already in place. These include recapturing water from roofs across the college and pumping water from the River Avon too, rather than using mains water.

Josh added: “From March through November around 85 per cent of our water is non-mains water. The River Avon is at the bottom of the site so the water we pump from there trickles back down.

“We’ve had a really positive last couple of years, what we’re doing is working and we’re able to offer our trade customers a wider range of products.

To find out more about Pershore College Garden Centre and Nursery visit here.